15/06/2019: Excellent dining experience, fantastic wine in a beautiful setting overlooking the hills. Food was everything you’d expect a top notch Restaurant to serve.
09/06/2019: Located about 2kms outside of of the village of Guardiagrele, this villa was a complete delight! We stayed here for two nights. If we were the reviewers and were going to rate the Villa's restaurant, we would give it at least two Michelin stars. This would have to be the best meal that we have had in Italy in fifteen yeas of regular visits to this beautiful country. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Chef Arcangelo Tinari, whose food we were fortunate enough to experience on our second night. He is a complete magician with food and a genius with taste sensation. Our only regret was that we couldn’t eat here on the first night we arrived, but the restaurant was closed. Arcangelo’s brother, Pascal, is the sommelier of the restaurant and the wine list is mouth-watering. There are over a hundred and thirty champagnes listed, which was right up our street, not to mention the huge selection of local Abruzzo-region wines and from elsewhere. You can select from an à la carte meal, or a five- or an eight-course degustation meal. With the latter, you can also select a wine pairing. We selected à la carte. Right from the first moment, when you sit down and feel the tablecloth and the beautifully embroidered table napkins, the Riedel glassware and even the silver cutlery, which you feel that you are the first person to ever use, you feel exceptionally special. The service of the restaurant staff is impeccable and extremely attentive and they saw to it that we were fully satisfied throughout our meal. Mr. Pepino himself, whose parents started the restaurant fifty years ago, was at pains to ensure that we received his full attention as well. We started off in fine style with sharing a bottle of Krug Rosé to celebrate a momentous occasion in our lives. The bread was special and was served with homemade lard, sourced from the Restaurant’s own farm. The Krug accompanied our at least eight-course meal, which comprised a selection of four mini appetisers, which consisted of a saffron crisp with hare and aoli; a parsley sponge soufflé, which completely disappeared in your mouth; a tempura of cod; and a spoonful of shredded veal with a peanut capping. The second appetiser consisted of thin strips of calamari on top of green peas and a tomato chilli relish. Our third appetiser was a carpaccio of kingfish, having an ionised smell. The plate looked like a painting and had a nasturtium leaf with a dew drop sitting on it and was decorated with tiny little flowers; and exquisitely thinly shaved porcini mushrooms over a ball of pecorino cheese with a pesto of herbs. Oh my goodness, we have never tasted such an intense mushroom flavour as this! Finally, we had a flan of porcini mushrooms that sat on a bed of braised pork cheek, which all sat on a purée of hazelnuts. WOW! What a taste sensation! Then, we arrived at the primi piatti, which was handmade ravioli filled with buratta cheese and served with a divine L’Aquilla saffron sauce; and handmade Chitarrina with wild asparagus. For our secondi piatti, we both had the roasted, salt-and herb-encrusted black pig from the Restaurant’s farm. This was served with an insalata mista, where each leaf was clearly hand-picked and had its own individual, fresh flavour. Our secondi piatti were accompanied by a 2013 Azienda Agricola Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which was just perfect. We then enjoyed a cheese platter of six cheeses of the region selected by Mr. Pepino. Again, these were sensational. We simply could not fit in dessert, but they insisted on us having a poached pear filled with ricotta served with a pumpkin gelato sitting on a hazelnut brittle; and some fresh strawberries accompanied by a strawberry gelato. Then, they served four petit-fours of a coconut macaron, a strawberry jam tart, a chocolate-covered orange rind strip and a chocolate-filled profiterole. How we were able to walk upstairs to our room, we do not know having enjoyed all that delicious food and wine. What we do know, is that we would have absolutely no hesitation in returning to enjoy these treasures and in highly recommending that everyone experiences this chef’s and the entire restaurant’s talents. Michelin reviewers, this deserves a minimum of two stars and could take on any top restaurant in the world! Our room on the first floor had its own wrap-around balcony, so that we had a 270 degree view of the village below, the snow-capped mountains surrounding the village and the Adriatic, with Chieti in the foreground. We had two nights here. On the first night, there was a thunderstorm with hail and we watched as the storm clouds rolled in from over the mountains behind us. When it cleared and night fell, the villages below and as far as we could see right across to the Adriatic, were lit up and sparkled with all the major churches and attractions aglow. The breakfast, which was included, was generous and the homemade croissants were the best that we have had anywhere in the world outside of one bakery in France. We were told that they were made by the chef Arcangelo. The yoghurt and all the JAMS were homemade and delicious! Stephani on Reception was a most obliging and helpful hostess and saw to all of our needs. The villa even has electric car charging stations on site. If you are visiting Guardiagrele, which we are highly recommending as an unspoilt, un-touristy, beautiful, friendly, spiritual village and if you are going to stay at Villa Maiella, we think it is advisable to have a car, as it is quite a walk into the town. A sensational visit!